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“12 Hour Round Trip (But worth it!!)”

Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica
Ranked #3 of 10 things to do in Cahuita
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Two types of tours to see sloths and learn about their diminishing rainforest habitat. Sorry, no direct contact with sloths, for their well-being and yours. "Buttercup Tour" requires no advance reservation; just arrive about 20 minutes before the top of the hour (8AM–2PM) to register. Duration about 2 hours. "Insider's Tour" is given twice daily and requires advance booking. This tour includes everything in the Buttercup Tour plus "behind-the-scenes" visits to the NICU, Slothpital, climbing area and more. Admission/donations collected directly support the sloths – their rescue, rehabilitation, wellness, research, housing and enrichments. Thank you for supporting the sloths with your tour!
Nottingham, England, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“12 Hour Round Trip (But worth it!!)”
Reviewed November 19, 2013

We took the 8 hour round trip from San Jose to visit the Sanctuary, this was our second visit to Costa Rica and we did not get time to visit on our first trip. It was defiantly one of the highlights of our trip and we would really recommend this to anybody who is visiting Costa Rica.

We got to meet lots of the sloths and learn their stories, we took the insiders tour, which I would recommend, it lasts for 4 hours and fly's bye!! You get to see the surgery, the babies and also see all the sloths the buttercup tour does not show. Well worth the extra time and money.

The boat trip was fun but we did not see any sloths, one recommendation would be to review the format of the boat trip, riding through the rain forest was fun though!

Visited November 2013
3 Thank me_slack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Fascinating reserve on beautiful property full of happy sloths!”
Reviewed November 18, 2013

Visiting the Sloth Sanctuary was one fo the highlights of our trip. We stayed at the B&B and splurged for the insiders tour in the morning. All of the staff at the Sanctuary were welcoming and knowledgable and their love of their work is clear. I would recommend going early in the morning to make sure that you get to your canoe ride before the typical Costa Rica rain sets in. After the relaxing and beautiful canoe ride we got to meet all of the happy sloths living at the sloth sanctuary. The insiders tour was definitely worth our while to really get an understanding of the scale of the operation and all of the sloths that are being helped there.

Visited November 2013
1 Thank AlisonJean2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed November 14, 2013

I read a lot of reviews of this sanctuary before and after visiting. My girlfriend and I stayed for a period of three days in October and had a fantastic time. I really need to stress that Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary is one of the only places on the planet that has a practical and in-depth understanding of these animals. It simultaneously acts as a veterinary hospital, a recovery site, a shelter and a learning centre in addition to a home for everyone at the facility. The family and staff have received some completely unwarranted bad press and are naturally defensive about their work, it's completely understandable. Half of the complaints claim the facility is a tourist trap, the other half complain that the facility doesn't cater to visitors enough. Both of these claims are ignorant and false.

Visitors are not there to be entertained. If you go, you're attending as a guest. I happily paid money to be invited in to this unique place, in order to understand their work, gain a greater appreciation for the animals they care for, and to do my best to remain respectful of their home and livelihood. They're not PETA, they're not ALF, they're not Greenpeace, they're not eco-monks, they wanted to make a difference and did, by their own means. This is literally a family, their friends and staff doing the best work they can with the resources they have available. Something that NO ONE was doing before them.

Speaking to our guide was a blast. He was funny and insightful. Discussing the work they accomplish, I was able to learn that much of the academic work written about these animals is inaccurate. He was able to cite studies that made clearly inaccurate claims related to the biology of sloths as well as their behaviour and habitat. The animals appeared healthy and well-cared for. In the case of seriously ill animals, they are monitored 24 hours a day and it was extremely touching to see the concern on the faces of those that care for these animals, despite the large number present.

Our room was clean and plain (this isn't a hotel, don't expect it to be). The food was simple but healthy and good (it's not a restaurant, don't expect it to be). There are fancy resorts and premier restaurants down the road, if that is to your liking, stay there, and visit the sanctuary during the day.

The boat tour was a fantastic refuge for an afternoon, and a rare experience to visit the interior of a rainforest free from human interference. In the evenings, we visited the boathouse and enjoyed the sounds from the water. A few nature walks and a trip around the area just to see what's around.

The highlight of the entire experience was interacting with the sloths. I'm not an expert by any means, but I am a cynic. There is no doubt in my mind that these animals are sentient and certainly understand that they're well cared for. I may never get the opportunity to experience this again, but if I am able, I will visit as many times as possible. Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary is run by a remarkable family helping remarkable animals. I wish them all the best, and am extremely pleased that they're finally getting the attention and support they deserve.

Visited October 2013
6 Thank M W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Everything you wanted to know about sloths but were afraid to ask”
Reviewed November 13, 2013

Ever since I saw my first sloth in Ecuador, I've been fascinated by these wonderful creatures. This tour was worth every penny and more! Not only is the tour educational, but you also learn about the plight of some of these misunderstood creatures that have been attacked by dogs or abused by humans and wind up here, being nurtured back to health.

For example, did you know that sloths are more closely related to anteaters than to, say, koala bears? They are entirely vegetarian and smell like trees or bark rather than fur, like a dog. And they can quickly regrow entire bones!

The tour begins with a visit to the sanctuary's older residents, the mature sloths, and that is followed by a trip to the sloth nursery, where younger residents hide under blankets and stuffed animals. It turns out that no sloth will ever nurture a child that isn't her own, so stuffed teddy bears fill in as foster mothers.

The final part of the tour is an hour-long canoe ride around the preserve, during which we were treated to an experience unlike any other I've had: a troupe of howler monkeys played in the treetops, munching leaves, playing and chasing each other around. I've never seen monkeys in the wild; it was incredible! The entire tour showed a jungle teeming with life: we saw bats, water insects, plentiful birds and yes, a sloth carefully hiding up a tree.

The kind folks who started this sanctuary have a wonderful story: they intended to start a hotel and somehow began taking in injured raccoons and the like. At some point, they ended up nurturing an injured sloth, and one thing lead to another. The husband has since passed away, but the grandson and other family members have taken up the cause and pitch in to help these fascinating creatures.

Note: closed on Mondays.

Visited November 2013
1 Thank Heidi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Level 6 Contributor
147 reviews
67 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
“Incredibly Wonderful Wildlife Sanctuary”
Reviewed November 12, 2013 via mobile

A must see experience and worrh a trip to this part of Costa Rica for this place alone. A Heartwarming and enlightening exposure to sloths. We are experienced with all sorts of animals and rescue centers, and after our behind the scenes tour here, we can't say enough words of praise for the care, concern, and lifetime commitment of the people who run this top notch facility. The Bluebell tour is worth every penny. Howfun to learn about the tiur's namesake. True wildlife lovers, we encourage you to do the extra "Behind the Scenes" tour.

Visited November 2013
Thank LasVegasTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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